Friday, January 29, 2016

5 fro Friday: Dance Dance Revolution

This post is sponsored by late nights in the office.

The past couple nights, I've been burning some midnight oil at the office. A couple big projects and events all ended up landing at the same time and there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. I am lucky enough to have an phenomenal job that is challenging, rewarding, and in which I find  meaningful work, so I really don't mind it. And anyways it leads me to share a little water cooler secret with you. One of my favorite times of the office day is... when no one is there. I love it. I love the silence. I love knowing no one will be knocking on the door. I love the fact that I will come in with (fingers crossed- significantly) less work in the morning. I love not feeling behind. I love the feeling of accomplishment of finishing something. BUT MOST OF ALL, I love late night office solo dance parties.

It seems to lighten my mood, get the blood pumping, and make me feel energized when I know no one is around and I can dance and sing along to anything I want. Last nights was further fueled by continuing the dance party to the kitchen with Andrew when I made it home from work. Sliding across the floor and doing the Charleston next to the dishwasher had me thinking that the number of dance parties we have had in our house is pretty impressive. We have some dance lessons coming up (yay anniversary present), but I'm pretty sure that we have some sweet moves already.

I encourage you to find your own list of sweet tunes for the kitchen dance floor. I would say bring out the fog machine and break open some glow sticks, but I don't want to feel outdone. And if you have the guts to challenge me to a no-talent dance party, be prepared to want to wash your eyes out with soap. There is no shame in my dance game and I'll pull out every musical theatre trick in the book to boot scoot and boogie. 

In no particular order, here are the 5 most used dance songs played in our house (okay, at least this week).

1) Robyn's Dancing On My Own
This was the impetus of the work place rave last night and might need to have a permanent place on my sweet moves playlist. I found it from a workout playlist and I'm digging the fact that I can't quite tell if she has a lisp or not.

2) Don Omar's Danza Kuduro
We first heard this song on a ridiculous party boat in the Dominican Republic and it became an instant favorite. When it became popular in the states a few months later... we basically went bananas every time it came on. I still have no idea what the words are, but will sing it at the top of my lungs. Tell me this doesn't make a spreadsheet or dish duty more fun....

3) Michael Bolton's How Can We Lovers
Theme song of my life. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE HERE? A sweet early 90s power ballad with a mullet (that is the closest hairstyle I can attribute to the video) and a meaningful set of lyrics. What I want to know is how can we be lovers if this doesn't make you pull out some air guitar or interpretative dance moves?

4) Avett Brothers' January Wedding
Now we are getting sentimental, but after some cardio centric dance moves everyone needs to catch their breath and slow it down a bit. This was our wedding song, so it is extra special to glide across the unclean kitchen floors with the handsome man to boot. Don't worry, it speeds up a bit in the middle for a nice dance break.

5) Walk the Moon's Shut Up and Dance With Me
I alluded to it a bit in a recent post, but with a crazy year this song has been on repeat a lot over the last few months. This song will definitely be making a repeat, repeat, and repeat appearance during my race this weekend because who doesn't want to get going with a song like this.

Any of these on your 'oh dear, I hope no one sees me' playlist? Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Penguin Tour to Magdalena Island

In case you missed it, my husband an I traveled to the southern part of Chile last year for a pretty awesome backpacking trip. There were highs... there were lows (get it?) but no matter what I kept my eye on the prize. The prize that was PENGUINS.

Disclaimer- I really had no particular attachment to penguins at the beginning of planning this trip. Actually, I had no attachment at all. I didn't want to kick a penguin, but I also had no intention of ever seeing one in real (aka not the zoo) life. But that all changed for the better. I mean, HELLO, can you look at this face?!?

After our trek in Torres del Paine National Park we took 2 back to back bus rides a bit further north to a town called Punta Arenas. Spoiler alert: the town is charming, but there isn't a whole heck open when you arrive at midnight. We stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast and it literally took me the lure of seeing penguins to get out bed the next morning after too many nights cold in a tent.

We made it to Solo Expediciones tour company with time to spare for our early morning departure to Magdalena Island. After another bus ride (Chilean theme) we got to the water to meet our chariot- also known as a boat small and somewhat scary enough to take us to a teeny island off the coast, with the sea swelling, fog settling, and okay... I fell asleep on the boat ride. I have no idea what happened, but you can ask Andrew. I just assume it was scary.

When we arrived on Magdalena Island, which is protected land so we were the only ones there, it was almost comical to see how many penguins there were... everywhere. 

They are sleek and graceful through the water and you see them puttering around online like they all look like it is one drink past last call and everyone is looking for an Uber. 

The other first impression? It reeked. Smelled of penguin poo- not that I had ever smelled penguin poo before, but it became apparent fairly quickly what it smells like.

The island looked like Mars with little penguin nests buried every so few feet around and suspicious penguins peering out at you. There were also penguins still molting, which looked absolutely adorable.

Then there were the show off penguins. Ones that would prance around squawking at whatever they pleased and generally being adorable.

I was most impressed with how much respect the penguins were given. Yes, humans were on the island, but there were very clearly demarcated areas that you could not cross and if you did the park guards would escort you off the island in a flash. I'm struggling with the same idea about if animal tourism is ethical for our upcoming trip to Thailand, and I feel very comfortable with our decision to visit Magdalena Island. The penguins were charming, dynamic, and were really amazing to see in person. 

My new life goal is for Andrew and I to become these two love birds.

If you haven't guessed it, now I'm a big penguin fan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Running Essentials

It is race week, friends! In just 5 short days, I'll be trucking through my next half marathon- which has been quite the adventure. For some unknown reason after only 3.5 weeks to train, I feel pretty darn confident going into it. Now not confident in a certain pace (especially if we are implying that would be a good pace), but after getting 11.5 miles done pretty easily this weekend I think that it will be an enjoyable race. I'm excited for my mom to finish her first half and I'm hoping that Cal makes an appearance to cheer me on.

When I signed up for my first half marathon 6 years ago, I was a much different runner than I am today. I had no idea what to expect, so I was both fearless and entirely fearful. I was fearless in the way that I didn't know what to expect, so I would speed through the beginning of workouts and then bonk majorly closer to the end. My first race ever remains my PB half marathon and I have no doubt it is because I sped through the first few miles and had NO idea what I was getting into. However, I was fearful too. I followed my training schedule to a T. If it said run 4 miles, I would run up and down my driveway to get that last .07 in. If it said cross train for 55 minutes and there was a limit on the gym machines, I would power walk to the next one open. I was so fearful of not being able to finish that I took the training plan (which I downloaded off the internet) to be 100% fool proof.

Now, I'm generally a lot more relaxed about my training. This weekend I was supposed to run 12 and was feeling pretty good. I felt like I had crossed the city, only got lost once, and thought it might be fun for Cal to run the last little bit with me. I swung by the house and Andrew had him ready to go... but he wouldn't go. Or in reality, all he wanted to do was GO (to the bathroom). After trying to coax him along for a bit, I realized that the last .5 miles wasn't going to make that much of a difference. I gladly walked Cal home and didn't feel (too) guilty for not rounding out the distance.

When I started running, I also had NO idea of the running gear that can make your run that much more enjoyable. And now that I'm not a complete novice runner, I think it makes a ton of difference. Here is my list on what makes those long runs just a bit easier.

1) Water Belt- This isn't the exact one that I carry, but I love that it has bonus water bottles. An absolute help if you have a cheering crew on race day that you can trade out your empties for. Just like with shoes and clothes and fuel, you absolutely need to practice running while hydrating or your stomach will be feel like a roller coaster after a couple of hydration stations. I love having a big pocket to carry my ID, phone, fuel, and key if necessary. Water belts take a little time to get used to, but I rarely go on a long run without one.

2) Shot Bloks- You think I'm kidding, but sometimes I think I may go for long runs just to be able to pop a couple of these. They are tasty, easy on the stomach, and just the energy burst to keep you going. I have had a hard time with certain Gus or other fuels keeping my stomach feeling good (I won't even tell you about the time I ran while eating my weight in gummy bears), but this works great for me.

3) Thorlo's Experia Socks- Running is supposed to be a pretty cheap hobby, right? Well- right and wrong. Yes, you can go put on your 100 year tennies and hit the ground running, but having supportive garments make everything so much better. My parents got me my first pair of Thorlos a few years back and they make the long runs so much better for my feet. They offer support, but also breathe well. I only have a few pairs because I only use them for hard runs, but would recommend snagging a pair or two if you intend to run some serious mileage.

4) Compression Sleeves- I used to be a nonbeliever, but just one time with these sweet, sweet compression sleeves to recover changed my outlook on what sore meant. Compression clothing can help quicken recovery and reduce inflammation after a particularly hard workout. I use calf sleeves to recover in (studies of performance wearing these while racing don't seem to indicate any advantage) and my recommendation is to wait till when a brand goes on sale and then snag them.

5) Running Activity Tracker- Now this model is absolutely not mine. Mine? Well it is actually Andrew's from about 5 years ago that is quite persnickety. Running activity trackers (think garmins... not just a fit bit) are so helpful while running to be able to stay alert (no looking at one's phone and falling flat on your face), monitoring your pace, and tracking your distance. It doesn't make you a faster runner, but it may make you a smarter runner. I know what my normal pace should be, so if I'm running 45 seconds faster than that and am aiming for a steady endurance run, I know that I need to back off. I would like to pick up a new one soon that tracks heart rate as well to be able to work on fitness, but the price tag is a little steep for an everyday purchase. 

Do you have any must have running accessories?

Friday, January 22, 2016

But Who Will Answer... Why My Toenails Are Growing So Fast

From a Group Trip to Rome in 2009

The real title should be "help my best friend is leaving the country for a year", but sometimes you got to speak the truth. My truth? I'm saving my tears for my pillow and polishing off  a craiglist ad for a temporary best friend. 


Lady friend who will remind me hygiene is important, will answer my text messages so I don't need to WebMD all medical concerns (see title above), someone who loves to text, watch Notre Dame football, and drink wine as much as me. MUST live in America (not getting fooled twice on that one). Willing to engage in lots of banter and likes to debate the good things in life or at least which online yoga video is best. 

You see before I even decide what section of craigslist I put this under (missed connections, nanny, lost+found?), my best friend and her husband head out to travel the world for a year. EEEEK!

I'm absolutely thrilled for this journey of theirs. Whether it is volunteering in Asia, beach bumming through Central America, or splurging on a safari in Africa, they're going to see the world in a way many of us won't get the opportunity to. It's not a vacation, but an extended opportunity to see, taste, learn, and experience cultures and communities across the globe. I can't wait to hear of their mishaps, misadventures, and mistakes turned into fun surprises will fill their next 12 months. They're going to live a lifetime in the next year. 

I'm also so jealous. This incredible year isn't part of my life journey at the moment and I'm already salivating over the idea of living a teeny, tiny part of this through her. I'm a tad anxious to be losing the immediate access of someone who (although we haven't lived in the same state for 5 years) seems to be a fixture in my day to day life through text, calls, and emails. But all that pales in comparison to what I hope they experience on this mega-trip.

The woman lives to travel. Back in our study abroad days I have quite a few memories of us jumping from London to sketchy hostels across Spain (that might have shared walls with ahem adult stores) to Easter in Vatican City (where  I  one of us may have accidentally lost their passport 2 days before having an audience with the Pope) to... Okay I'm not doing myself any favors by sharing these stories. The truth she is an adventurer at heart. She isn't the same careful, somewhat shy lady I met a decade ago, but has enough spunk and street smarts to keep her head on straight while gallivanting the globe. Her and her husband are hoping to share their journey on the world in a more public way and I can't wait to brag on them if that happens.

In the meantime, send suggestions on my craigslist posting. I may be able to muster up a 7th grade glamour shot of you think that'll help sweeten my ad. Braces and big curled forehead bangs are still in, right?


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Criminal Hobbyist

My name is Shay and I am a criminal hobbyist. I've said it. I mean it. It is what I do. 

But wait, before you go calling the cops on me and I see some blue and red flashing lights come my way, what I meant was that I spend a lot of time reading, listening to, or watching crime biographies/podcasts/documentaries. Like an embarrassing amount of time. So much Forensic Files that sometimes Andrew legit makes me change the station because he can't stand watching another episode (or more likely an episode that I've already watched 3 or 4 times). In college, I even made a cameo appearance in a show that I will not name because after I saw myself as a murderer in a terrifying blonde wig I wanted to commit s crime... mostly because it was clear that I should never go blonde.

Enough of these embarrassing personal problems that I shouldn't share with the internet and on to real questions like why do people like these books, podcasts, and shows? Think about that for a minute. Legit almost 24 hours a day you can turn on your TV and see CSI, Law and Order, Snapped, Forensic Files, Criminal Minds or possibly all of them on at once. These are not happy go-lucky, feel good shows. No one puts down that remote feeling remotely better about humanity, but idiots like myself watch them constantly! It isn't just TV, my kindle and podcast app are full of criminal material. 

I think people consume this media (myself included) because it is both thrilling (are they going to catch the bad guy by the end of this 44 minute program) and feeds on the cultural status quo of society (we want the good guys to solve the problem and are utterly unsettled when those closing credits sweep on by without somebody being caught). I have spent many a sleepless night re-envisioning what X situation would look like and what window I would jump out of to get away. I also believe that instead of flight or fight, I would (just curl up and die or) use my immense fictional criminal knowledge to save the day- a la Home Alone.

So in the odd case that you are NOT terrified by the three paragraphs above, I have 3 recommendations for your (or crime hobbyist gateway drugs) for the genre.

Image result for sword and scale nurse
Yes, sometimes this podcast scares the pants living daylights out of me, but you want to talk about insane true stories... this is a good one. My recommendation is to start with episode 40 about a nurse. Also, and I mean this, skip ALL the episodes about crimes with pregnant women. I wish I had. Disclaimer- this show can get a bit intense, so take my recommendation if you aren't going to lock yourself up in your bathroom and never leave the house again after listening. Side note- listening to this while out for a run makes my paces freakishly fast; talk about good run fast to get away from the bad guys visualization.

I found this a very interesting read. It tells the story of a wife and stay at home mom who, by random association with an individual, changes her whole life to become a criminal profiler. She talks about cases and how she used the psychology of the crime to create a framework for police, investigators, and family on what kind of individual they should be looking for. I picked up a copy at the local library and was done in 2 and a half days.
So there is about an 85% chance you have already been evangelized about this documentary series or watched it yourself, but this was another pop culture/ Netflix hit that I dove full force into. I don't want to spoil anything, but tell me what you think? Guilty... innocent... Brendan? 

For extra credit- here is a fascinating article by the New Yorker on the idea of Making a Murderer as a representative for a subgenre... and why it failed both the families of those involved and (in my opinion more interesting) how it replaced the certainty of Steven Avery doing something wrong to the (now) public sentiment that the sheriffs have done wrong.

Any other closeted criminal hobbyists out there?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What I Talk About When I Talk About...

"i'll be happy if running and i can grow old together" {haruki murakami)  #agree #FunRun #OnlyAtomsrunning:

Have you read this book? My book club (non runners, ironically) picked it up about a year ago and I have spent a lot of time thinking about it as of late. So close to this next race, I'm spending a lot of time out pounding  the pavement- and with that comes some serious alone time. With life and some annoying stressors that have recently reared their ugly (and unwanted) head, alone time that isn't spent being pulled in a million different (work, fun, or otherwise) directions is at a premium.

So I've been doing something I never do. Running at least part of my route with nothing- no music, no podcast, no chit chatting. Nothing. I think I've always been scared to do this because, as any distance runner knows, boredom can be your worst enemy. It can be the thing that tips the scales from a challenging run to torture or a new, shiny reason to NOT lace up and rack up the miles. Honestly,I don't know if I have ever even thought about trying it before- I just was not interested.

Then a few weeks back I had been mentally hemming and hawwing over a personal situation and just couldn't get my head on straight about it. I decided to run the first 2 miles of a run focusing on that 'problem', talking myself through options, and just trying to gain perspective on it all. 2 miles went by quickly, then 3, and by the time 4 got around I finally felt like I had worked through things enough see a clearer picture. I jammed head phones in and then listened to the sweet, sweet voice of Sarah Koenig for the rest of the run, but felt so much more accomplished than just the miles at the end of the run. 

In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami, a famous novelist, talks about why he runs. He is a pretty serious (read way more than me) runner, but somehow he manages to write things that are so true and yet I had never thought about them before. P.S. if you have a runner in your life, this is a great gift...

Haruki Murakami's thoughts on writing and running: What I Talk About When I Talk About Run­ning:


Sunday morning I woke up and had a 10 miler on my schedule. The Houston Marathon was today (minutes from our house), but due to my untimely registering I didn't get a slot to race. In my mind I not only really wanted to conquer another full, but I also really wanted it to be in Houston- our new home. Andrew and I watched coverage of the race and all the sudden I again became emotional about this not being my race. I (admittedly grudgingly) headed out on my run without the ear buds in and spent some time just on my thoughts. By the end of the 10 miles, both the run and my mental state felt incredible. I was energized and by the end of it looked down at my garmin and saw I was just a little bit off a PR. I came home and Andrew had whipped up a little surprise for me- my own training run medal. It wasn't the Houston full, but it was a pretty great run.

What do I talk about when I talk about running? 
Joy, pain, heap loads of humility, problem solving, blisters, release, laughter, Chok Blocks, friendships, meditation, gratitude, shin splints, and a sense of being very small, but important in your own way.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Chile Part 7

This may have been more aptly named... The Last Day of Hiking, I'm Dying, or No Words Just Being Tired. Because pretty much by the end of our hiking trip that was exactly how I felt. It was amazing, absolutely yes, but my body was exhausted. In that vein and also in the vein of my sister telling me I need to wrap Chile up, here is a photo heavy/words light recap of the last hiking day where we woke up in the middle of the night to hike to Torres del Paine for a sunrise... surprise.

Wake up at 3am.

Put on head lamp cause it is dark (see above). That is right, I said head lamp. Pretty bad ass.

Start hiking. in. the. dark. That is right, I said in the dark. Pretty bad ass.

Make Andrew carry the pack of warm clothes and breakfast for the peak. Go too fast and  lose Andrew because it was dark and I was speedy without a horcrux of a pack (RIP Alan Rickman). Find Andrew. He is annoyed by this point- probably by me freaking out in the dark.

Hike more-parts basically on my hands and knees because it is dark and I'm a spaz.

Make it to the top before sunrise and feel like a bad ass.

See a very foggy sunrise. Side note- this was the one drawn back of the trip. We had phenomenal weather in a region that is known to be very unpredictable (100 km wind gusts, snow, side wise rain, the works), but on the grand finale of the trip there was a lot of fog and the sunrise wasn't quite the majestic picture perfect image that we were hoping for. However, it was still beautiful. We were snuggled up in our sleeping bags (brought them to the peak because it was cold) scarfing down granola bars and the view (and trip and fact we were still speaking) was an accomplishment.

Reflect on our awesome trip.

Hike back down to the base camp and realize how absolutely terrified we should have been about the grade of the climb, but weren't because we couldn't see anything.

Pack up our trusty tent for one last Chilean time.

Hike to the entrance of the park. Spend a small fortune on food that wasn't dehydrated and beer. 

Regret nothing.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Last 5 Google Searches


I don't know if this is a horrible idea or an awesome one, but I got the hankering on a long run about sharing the things that we all hope no one sees. For me- it is the google search. I get hives when I think about IT coming to look at my computer for whatever deadly error I've managed to do to my digital appendage. There is no doubt a plethora of mindless google searches and they are going to take back my internet privileges for googling one million times how many cups are in a quart. 

So in case you haven't guessed it yet, I'm sharing a sampling of my recent googles.Yes, that is right- I do use google as a verb and I'm proud of it. Okay, proud is not exactly the right word, but I have accepted it as truth. So below is a sampling of the google searches that I'm not too proud to share.

1) Trip Adviser Thailand Accommodations
Image result for trip advisor
Well now that the Thailand cat is out of the bag, my fingers are sore from the insane amount of trip planning googling going on. We just heard word from a pair of our friends from California who are living in Singapore now that they will be joining us for the beach bum part of our vacation. I think I found the perfect spot for us to stay at. Teaser- it is only reachable by long boat and there are tree houses (and monkeys). I can't wait to share where we end up staying!

2) 8 Minute Abs

Okay, so this one is embarrassing. I don't think that anyone can actually get abs in 8 minutes, but I just wanted to do a quick workout where someone else was pushing me... It is easier to be mad at them than at yourself. Anyone (even I) can get through 8 minutes.

3) Guidelines for Deducting Student Loan Payment Interest on Taxes
 See, I did google one adult thing! The good news, I now know the answer. The bad news, tax season is on the way. Pretty much like the boogie man.

 Okay, so that wasn't EXACTLY what I googled, but while looking through our credit card statements we noticed some fraudulent charges. After googling the global office supplies company, I was pretty darn sure that neither of us purchased any industrial desks as a surprise gift. 

5)Map My Run

Have you used this before? It is pretty awesome. I use it all the time when I want to pre-measure a distance to make sure I hit my distance goal. After getting a rough estimate I use my garmin and just enjoy the distance ticking by without having to stress over the exact distance of a loop around the neighborhood.

Anything embarrassing in your google history... or is that just me?

Monday, January 11, 2016

How To Run A Half Marathon in 3.5 Weeks

Okay, so probably a more honest title would be 'How I Think I Will Run/Crawl/Exist Through A Half Marathon in 3.5 Weeks,' but that just doesn't seem to flow off the tongue the same way. In case you missed it, last week I signed up for a half marathon 26 days away. After signing up I THEN decided to actually get my butt in gear and try to ya know, train for it. Whoops!

I guess the first thing is to start eating my body weight in carbs that I should reiterate (to myself) for the million-th time is to enjoy the process and not get caught up that I'm not at the same pace/strength/fitness level that I normally hope to be this close to a race. This won't be a PR. And that has to be okay. And the only person not making it okay, is me!  

My plan is to survive this race is just to get some good training miles in during the short time that I have left. I got a great 8 miles in this weekend (surprisingly not awful, actually) and most of the time I was just focusing on the mile I was in. For the bit that my brain got all crazy and full of expectations on time/ speed/ endurance, I basically started to choke. The good news is that I know exactly what will fix that.... the sweet, sweet voice of Sarah Kanning and Serial Season 2 in my ear buds. Or self control. Or Chok Blocks.  That is the good thing with long runs... you have a lot of time to figure out what the highlight of the experience is.

Last week was all about adding miles (24 total) and this week is all about continuing to build the endurance. I'm sharing my training plan below, but treat it with a grain of salt. Sharing this, I hope, holds my feet a little closer to the accountability fire. But seriously, this is just what I THINK will work for me. I've been running and racing for 6ish years and know my fitness level for running (albeit slow) endurance miles. If you're new to racing, I would absolutely recommend Hal Higden's plan and aim for a solid 12 weeks of training (if you're new to running, a few extra weeks before to start running). Oh and checking with a doctor. And buying good shoes. Clarification- good running shoes.

Cheers to hoping that I survive this week's miles and am closer to that finish line!